CHARLOTTESVILLE — Victims or witnesses of bullying at Eastern Hancock Schools Corp. will soon have a new way to report incidents to school authorities.
The BullyBøx, an online program that also features a downloadable smartphone app, provides a tech-friendly format for students to anonymously report bullying to school staff, said Eastern Hancock Schools Corp. assistant principal Lisa Hagan. The district is adding the program to its arsenal of ways to report bullying this year because the professional version is now offered free of charge through an arrangement by the Indiana Association of High School Principals for students in grades 6-12, Hagan said.
In the coming weeks, school officials will distribute information to students about how to download the app or access the program online and connect to Eastern Hancock’s network.
Eastern Hancock students in grades 6-12 may access the program online via their take-home computers, so every student — even those who don’t have smartphones — has the ability to make a report.
Eastern Hancock, which reported 14 incidents of bullying last year to the Indiana Department of Education, is the only corporation that has taken advantage of the partnership so far.
The district is using The BullyBøx pro — an advanced version of the program that normally carries a $500 per corporation price tag — which offers some perks like the option to attach screenshots.
Certain words in a student’s report can also automatically trigger a warning phone call to administrators.
The BullyBøx program creator, Brandon Boynton, is a graduate of Pendleton Heights High School, which made it easier for the association to reach out to the creator about offering the program for free to students in Grades 6 to 12 in Indiana, Hagan said.
Eastern Hancock High School uses the program in addition to software that monitors students’ email accounts for threats of harm, Hagan said.
Mt. Vernon High School provides a link to The BullyBøx website from its “Report a Bully” page, but the district has not yet subscribed to the service.
Though no other county high schools are using the BullyBøx program at this time, administrators say they work hard to ensure student safety.
New Palestine and Greenfield-Central high schools use a tip line for students. New Palestine also offers a form on its website where students can make a report.
Greenfield-Central High School guidance director Kim Kile said anonymous reporting isn’t always best for the victim.
“We like being able to talk to the student personally as a part of the process,” she said. “There’s a lot of education that can take place in person.”